dinsdag 31 augustus 2021

After Dinner Martini for real coffee lovers


It’s rather unusual for this season, but this summer I’ve seen several new bottles hitting the shelves. Today I’m combining two new Belgian products in a delicious after dinner cocktail.

Insurgent Cold Drip : Imagine roughly cut coffee beans and ice cold water. It takes 18 hours to create cold drip coffee, drip by drip. The caffeine level is almost double from normal coffee but all the rough edges are gone. 70% less sours and bitters. 100% clean and natural in every single drop.  

Pinguino Vermouth : Seasoned Chef Wim Schoofs shared this project with me almost a year ago. It took until now to prepare for the launch. Wim has spent many years finetuning the recipe for this premium vermouth, made with herbs and spices from all around the world. It’s absolutely refreshing in a highball with tonic. But when you use it as an ingredient for a proper cocktail, in my opinion it develops very interesting flavors which are more like an amaro. But just to be clear, Pinguino is wine-based just like any other vermouth. Very special product that really changes in taste when sampling it neat, with ice, with water or with any other mixer. 

No, this cocktail is not your average Espresso Martini. I’ve seen similar recipes before with very herbal amari, but never with a vermouth. The flavors and aromas of the vermouth absolutely take the lead. The coffee undertones define the type of drink. This recipe will not create a thick and creamy foam layer like a classic Espresso Martini. In the taste it will highlight raw and pure tones instead of the silky softness you’re used to. It’s really another type of drink, but very tasty. I dare to state this is a coffee cocktail for real coffee enthusiasts. 

After-dinner Martini for real coffee lovers

Ingredients
50 ml Filliers Grain Vodka
30 ml Pinguino Vermouth
25 ml Resurgent Cold Drip coffee
10 ml Honey syrup

Method
Add everything to a shaker with lots of ice and shake for 10 to 12 seconds. Strain into your glass. It works pretty good in a tumbler with fresh ice, but you can also serve it as a Martini. I don’t really need garnish on this one, but when you serve it to your guests maybe add a few coffee beans just as you would do with an Espresso Martini. 

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

maandag 23 augustus 2021

Lillet Apero(L)


The iconic Negroni seems to be a source for endless variations. Since I was playing around with the bottle of Lillet Blanc to make the Reverse Vesper, I thought it would be a great idea to use it also for a nice Italian-style aperitif 馃槈. This cocktail is a light and fruity Negroni-variation. 

Lillet Apero(L)

Ingredients
30 ml Aperol
30 ml Lillet Blanc
30 ml Cinzano sweet vermouth

Method
Stir together in a tumbler or mixing glass. Garnish with dehydrated orange. 

P.S. Next month, for a limited time, this drink will be on the suggestions menu at Paal 26 Grand Caf茅.

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations. This article is a paid partnership with Paal 26 Grand Caf茅.

vrijdag 20 augustus 2021

Reverse Vesper with Lillet Blanc


'Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?'

It’s not the first time we talk about the Vesper on this blog. The iconic Dry Martini variation, as featured in the James Bond novel and movie “Casino Royale”, is a spirit-forward drink with world fame. The original recipe called for Kina Lillet as vermouth-style ingredient. In 1986 they removed most of the quinine liqueur from the recipe and changed the name of the bottle to Lillet Blanc. Quinine is very bitter, so the current Lillet is much softer in taste. 

In the movie, Vesper asks Bond if he named the drink after her "because of the bitter aftertaste", James answers "I named it after you because once you have tasted it, you won't drink anything else." 

If you want to serve a Vesper that comes very close to the original recipe, you could swap the Lillet for Cocchi Americano. But that is NOT what we are going to do today. 

The Vesper is a pretty heavy drink. In summer I like my drinks to be slightly lower in alcohol. That’s why the ‘Reverse Vesper’ might be a great idea. With Lillet Blanc as a base you get a totally different drink that’s actually really tasty. The recipe is very much Lillet-forward and has the stronger spirits in a supporting role, which will boost the flavors of the Lillet.  

About the measurements for this drink… There are many different sizes in Martini glasses available. Through history originally Martini glasses were pretty small drinks (so you could drink many of them)… but the size of the glasses always got bigger and bigger. For this reason I’ll give you the recipe also in parts, to adjust the recipe to the size of your glasses.

And yes, I like my drinks “bar-style”, so my recipe is still slightly bolder than what you’ll find on the brand websites for average home use 馃槈 

Reverse Vesper

Ingredients
40 ml or 3 parts Lillet Blanc
25 ml or 2 parts Filliers Grain Vodka
7 ml or ½ part Beefeater Gin

Method
A Vesper needs to be “shaken, not stirred”… but this Reverse Vesper is a light cocktail that might get too weak when shaken. I prefer this one stirred, just like my other Martini drinks. 

Stir together in a mixing glass with lots of ice. Strain in a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist. First give it a squeeze to get some of the oils on your drink. 

P.S. Next month, for a limited time, this drink will be on the suggestions menu at Paal 26 Grand Caf茅.

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations. This article is a paid partnership with Paal 26 Grand Caf茅.

dinsdag 17 augustus 2021

You only live once


This drink is a soft variation on the “Yolanda” recipe. For me it’s a nice “in between” cocktail starting the transition from light highball summer drinks towards next seasons’ drinks with lots of dark spirits. 

You only live once

Ingredients
15 ml Vecchia Romagna (Italian brandy)
15 ml Maria Brizard Anisette
15 ml Beefeater Gin
30 ml Cinzano sweet vermouth
A few drops of grenadine syrup

Method
Shake all ingredients with lots of ice. Strain in a chilled coupe and garnish with a citrus peel. First squeeze it to get some of those wonderful oils on top of your drink. 

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

donderdag 12 augustus 2021

Banana Boulevardier


Sometimes a small alteration in a recipe can have a big influence on taste. This is another one you really have to try !

Banana Boulevardier

Ingredients
30 ml Bourbon
30 ml Cinzano sweet vermouth
15 ml Campari
15 ml Giffard Banane du Br茅sil

Method
Stir either directly in the glass or in a mixing glass. Just remember you need small icecubes in the glass where you do the stirring. It really doesn’t work very well with a big block. If you stir in a mixing glass and then strain into your tumbler, you have the option to serve the drink with a big block of ice. 

This is a Negroni-variation, so garnish should be orange peel or dehydrated orange. 

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

maandag 9 augustus 2021

Tasting "Victoria" - Patr贸n competition cocktail by Jules Verlinden


When you think about bartenders competing in prestigious international cocktail competitions, you automatically think of top-level bars in big cities like Amsterdam, Brussels or Antwerp. In Diest, a small market town in the east of Belgium, you will find a restaurant called “De Nieuwe Haan” (“The New Rooster”). The owner’s son is Jules Verlinden. In the restaurant he works front of house, but his true passion is developing amazing cocktails. 

In 2019 I was part of the jury for the Amaro Montenegro BeLux cocktail competition. I was very happy to send Jules to the global finals in Italy with the ‘Monterinha’ cocktail. This weekend I visited the restaurant to taste ‘Victoria’, his entry for the Patr贸n Tequila Perfectionist cocktail competition. 

In cocktail competitions you need a combination of a delicious cocktail and a good entertaining story. The cocktail must be replicable in bars all around the world and the story needs to be a perfect match with the cocktail. Not just any fairy-tale will do. Jules matches the Victoria cocktail to the history of ‘Cinco de Mayo’. The holiday remembers the battle between Mexico and France. On May 5, 1862 the Mexican soldiers won the battle at Puebla from the much larger French troops. Jules used Mexican and French spirits in his drink and even the smoked salt on the rim reminds of the ashes on the battlefield. The name Victoria stands for Victory… and is also a hopeful reminder that the end of the current pandemic might be coming soon. In my opinion this is a solid match. 

The drink itself is a Margarita-style cocktail with added pear-flavors. It’s a bit more sophisticated than that because he uses lime cordial and infused spirits, but I just want to give you a general idea about the taste. What I love about all of Jules’ cocktails is that he creates drinks that give you a series of flavor experiences. 

In this drink you start with the earthy pear, followed by the Tequila with keeps going for a while. My only concern for this creation was the limited aroma in the nose, probably caused by the very large icecube in the serve. Jules agreed and will try to use a smaller cube for the competition. Since we’re still under corona-rules, the competition is completely remote and the cocktail will be prepared by another bartender, following Jules’ instructions. When the jury judges the drink itself, they will always judge on taste, aroma and presentation. 

We also tasted a few other original creations on the menu. He improved the Monterinha which now brings a pretty different experience with an eggwhite layer. But I was most amazed by his interpretation of the Mojito. This is a cocktail I normally don’t like at all. In most bars you get an awful sweet and sticky drink that you can hardly call a cocktail. It’s just sugar, rum and ice with a pinch of lime. Jules created a totally new drink, served as a Martini, reconstructed with all the flavors that should go in a Mojito. On the menu you will find versions with and without alcohol. I tasted both. This is next-level mixology. It was a very positive surprise. And you should see the faces of the customers when they get this serve instead of the “highball glass filled with crushed ice” they expect 馃槈 

In every bar I visit, I always order an Old Fashioned in their signature style. In this restaurant the Old Fashioned is not yet on the menu, because just like the Mojito, Jules wants to create a totally different interpretation of the Old Fashioned. The cocktail is still under development, but I got to taste it anyway. It was certainly different and packed with taste. I don’t want to give away too much just yet, but think of a very clean Japanese style cocktail. I’m still thinking how it can be further developed because it sure has potential. 

Extra tip when you want to visit Jules to sample a few cocktails. His father Dirk (actually an old friend of mine) is the owner and Chef of the restaurant. I highly recommend his cooking. After our tasting we enjoyed a great lobster and Chateaubriand dinner with a view at the bar where all the action was going on. 

Thanks Jules, we had a great evening.
Wishing you all of luck with the Patr贸n competition. 

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

donderdag 5 augustus 2021

Bohemian Mule


Let’s talk about the ‘mule’. A simple cocktail with only three ingredients : Spirit, lime and ginger beer. You can add a little bit of syrup if the citrus is too sour, but make sure to keep a good balance. Most often this type of drinks are served in a metal cup. You can mix this type of cocktail with your spirit of choice… I’ve seen them with Irish whiskey, Tennessee whiskey, Scotch whisky, Gin, Tequila, Rum… and of course the original spirit for this recipe, vodka. 

Since the day I’ve been served a Moscow Mule as ‘house cocktail’ in an Italian restaurant (I’m not kidding!!!), I find it hard to take this drink seriously. Totally wrong of course and yes, this is absolutely a great and refreshing cocktail. 

Today I’m mixing a variation on this recipe that’s less known, but absolutely delicious : The Bohemian Mule. This drink was created by Giovanni Burdi in London in the 90s. For me the best part of this drink is the fact that you have the choice to make it ‘low alcohol’ by selecting a bottle of Absinthe that’s a bit lighter. Normally I use Absente 55 as my go-to bottle for rinses, but for this drink I’m using the lighter Absente 26. I also played around with the recipe. The original recipe uses only 30ml of Absinthe and 8 ml of sugar… but they use rich syrup (2/1).  

Bohemian Mule

Ingredients
40 ml Absente 26
15 ml Fresh lime juice (=Juice of half a lime)
10 to 12 ml Simple syrup
Top with a good quality Ginger Beer

Method
Shake the Absente with lime juice and syrup in a shaker with lots of ice. Strain in your glass or cup with fresh icecubes. Top with Ginger Beer and give it just one more gentle stir. Garnish with lime and mint. 

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

dinsdag 3 augustus 2021

Hennessy Manhattan


The Manhattan is one of those classic cocktails that was a base for many variations. One of the more tasty variations is the French Manhattan. The recipe might look a bit odd at first, but you really need to give it a try. I have made this drink before with Remy Martin Cognac, this time I’m going for a special bottling of Hennessy. 

Hennessy Manhattan

Ingredients
45 ml Hennessy Cognac Limited Edition Felipe Pantone
45 ml Cinzano Sweet vermouth
10 ml Cointreau (if you want more cognac flavors try Cointreau Noir or Grand Marnier)
1 dash of Angostura Orange bitters

Method
Stir all ingredients together in a mixing glass with lots of ice. Strain in a prechilled coupe. Garnish with a sweet amarena cherry. 

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

maandag 2 augustus 2021

Can I use chocolate for garnish ?


Garnishes don’t always have to be a fancy cut of lemon or orange. In the past years I’ve seen many different garnishes even including pastry and sugar decoration. I’m leaning toward the Japanese principle that a garnish needs to add something to the drink. If it’s only decoration, you can skip it. Last weekend I mixed up two quick aperitifs, that both had a nice benefit from a chocolate garnish. 

The first drink was a bit obvious, X-Gin & Tonic, where X-Gin of course is a chocolate infused premium gin. I garnished this one with dark Madagascar chocolate 67,4% by The Chocolate Nation. This chocolate is made with premium cacao from the red island. Very intense taste with tones of raspberry, juniper, apricot and banana. The juniper really blends the chocolate to the G&T. 

The second drink is a dessert-style Old Fashioned. 

Banana & Chocolate

Ingredients
60 ml Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie
20 ml Giffard Banane du Br茅sil
2 dashes Nut bitters

Method
Let’s make it simple. Fill up your tumbler with ice cubes, add all ingredients and give it a good stir. Garnish with chocolate. I could have used the same chocolate because of the banana tones, but instead I picked Milk Chocolate “Power” 40,7% by The Chocolate Nation. This chocolate has a powerful core and creamy caramel tones that mix well with the whisky. 

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.